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5 Mai 2019

Charis Kamphuis, The Conversation

Commentary: Why does Justin Trudeau succumb to corporate pressure?

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[T]he Liberals have once again yielded to industry pressureand seriously weakened their commitment to corporate accountability for Canadian companies operating abroad... [T]he prime minister has declined to use the Public Inquiries Act to guarantee that the new ombudsperson will be independent from government. Instead, Meyerhoffer will be a public servant and “special advisor” to the minister. This means that the new ombudsperson does not have the job security necessary to withstand the inevitable political pressure that difficult cases attract... The new ombudsperson also lacks the fundamental power to fully investigate and order remedies on the basis of findings of abuses... While she can “review” a complaint and recommend compensation, she cannot enforce remedies for victims or impose a sanction for violations. The ombudsperson’s meagre power is limited to recommending that government withdraw economic and political support for companies that refuse to participate in the process in good faith. The UN and civil society groups have repeatedly told Canada that this approach... is entirely ineffective.

... [C]ompanies are allowed to use the ombudsperson to file complaints for “unfounded human rights abuse allegations.” And there’s nothing in place to prevent companies from seeking compensation from human rights organizations or individuals on this basis... Not only is there is no evidence that Canadian companies need such remedies, it is widely observed that powerful companies will abuse existing defamation laws in an effort to intimidate their critics by taking them to court. This problem is so well-established that a number of Canadian provinces have enacted legislation to address it.